Brighter and Whiter—Teeth Whitening Options For a Pearly-White Smile

July 2015 View more

Happiness is...Ever notice how some people can brighten a room, and everyone’s mood, simply with their smile? Your smile makes an instant, visual impact on people around you. A dazzling smile is contagious and can give the impression of vitality, warmth and happiness.

A Brighter You

A brighter, whiter smile is often perceived as a healthy smile. The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry reports that just about all adults (99.7 percent) believe a smile is an important social asset. Their survey found that 96 percent of adults believe an attractive smile makes a person more appealing to members of the opposite sex. Three-quarters (74 percent) of adults feel an unattractive smile can hurt a person’s chance for career success. As we get older, our teeth naturally turn darker or even become stained from eating and drinking. This could be part of the reason why pearly- white teeth give a more youthful impression.

Teeth Whitening Options

If you’d like to turn up the white hues in your smile a few notches, you might want to consider teeth whitening. It works well for people with healthy teeth and gums and for those with yellow shades to their teeth. There are generally two options when it comes to whitening your teeth, do-it-yourself options or by visiting your dentist. There are countless over-the-counter products to choose from if you want to do it on your own ranging from whitening toothpastes, rinses, strips to gels. Many dentists offer one-hour in-office teeth whitening procedures.

But do the over-the-counter options really work? “Yes, they are able to whiten teeth with surface stain. They use low doses of peroxide and abrasion to whiten teeth,” said Dr. Angelica Van Dyke, RiverWalk Family Dental in Naperville. “This option is far less invasive. “ But there are some important things to consider before doing it yourself. “Patients do not know if they are candidates for whitening when they use over-the-counter products and can cause sensitivity to their teeth. Peroxide in over-the-counter products can cause gum tissue burns with improper use and ill-fitting trays. Overuse of whitening toothpastes may cause abrasion in areas of the enamel which also may cause sensitivity in the teeth,” said Dr. Van Dyke. These conditions are usually temporary and disappear within a few days of stopping the treatment.

Whitening options offered under the care of a dentist include custom trays and in-office one-hour whitening. Bleaching trays are made by a dental professional. “The results are superior to over-the-counter products and more direction and supervision is given by the healthcare professional who is making the trays. In-office whitening treatments give similar results in a fraction of the time,” said Dr. Van Dyke. The whitening product is applied directly to the teeth and used in combination with heat, a special light or a laser.

Not For Everyone

In general, you should consult with your dentist before using a whitening treatment. Teeth whitening isn’t for everyone, especially children under age 16. It’s also not recommended for pregnant or lactating women. Anyone allergic to peroxide should not use a bleaching product. Same is true for patients with sensitive teeth. “Any whitening process will exacerbate any sensitivity. Patients who have dental caries or periodontal disease should not use whiteners because it is important to have a healthy smile before considering any cosmetic procedure,” said Dr. Jill Pasinski of RiverWalk Family Dental. And it doesn’t work for people with crowns or fillings. “Any dental restoration will not change color with any whitening procedure. The teeth will whiten but the restorations will remain unchanged, which can lead to an uneven smile,” said Dr. Pasinski. If you’re considering teeth whitening, talk to your dentist during your next checkup. Since your dentist is familiar with your dental history, he or she can help you find the treatment that works best for you.